Google tracks you even if you tell it not to

Even with Location History paused some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking

According to a new report from the Associated Press, Google has a variety of different ways it tracks your location, and simply turning off Location History won't actually prevent the company from knowing where you are and where you have been. The investigation found that users are being misled by Google's claim that for those who turn off Location History "the places you go are no longer stored".

Google's own instructions say, 'You can turn off Location History at any time.

Google's apps can help you find a destination, personalize a search and even help you remember where you parked your vehicle thanks to a slew of personal data, including your location.

Google's official message is to promote user autonomy when it comes to deciding what information to share: "You can turn off Location History at any time". AP noted actions like having your Android phone fetch weather updates sends Google a rough idea of your locale.

Google offers settings that allow you to choose whether you want the company constantly tracking your location or not.

The AP's findings were confirmed by computer-science researchers at Princeton University.

When paused, it will prevent activity on any device from being saved to your account. Google added that it's clear in how the features work and allows you to delete your location history "at any time".

Mashable was also provided with this link on Google's location data policy.

On desktop (also for iOS): Open Google in a new tab, sign into your account if you're not already signed in, click your profile picture (upper-right corner) and then click Google Account.

To stop Google from saving these location markers, the company says, users can turn off another setting, one that does not specifically reference location information. That last phrase appears to be referring to Web & App history, though Google wasn't clear on that. With Location History off, Google Maps and other apps store your whereabouts in a section of your account called "My Activity", not "Location History".

That starts with its apps, but is also tied to another setting that is enabled by default.

Although Google maintains that such location-tracking features are meant to improve your experience.

"They build advertising information out of data", said Peter Lenz, the senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, a rival advertising technology company.

As for Shankari, she's most indignant about the opacity of the whole system; "I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle", she clarified. "It just really bothers me that it is not explicitly stated". Searches that grabbed your location will have the small location pin icon next to them; delete those to cover up your tracks. It says it can measure how well a campaign drove foot traffic with data pulled from Google users' location histories. Users need to point their browsers to Google's Activity Controls web page. In particular, neither the Google Assistant, a digital concierge, nor the Google Home smart speaker will be particularly useful. Even if reports like the AP's generate fleeting moments of outrage, we've already traded away a healthy portion of our identities and habits in order to be able to both use Google Maps and be served endless programmatic ads. "For example, you may stop seeing helpful recommendations based on the apps and sites you use".

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